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Do I need to establish paternity to receive child support for my child?

Establishing the legal paternity of your child is critically important for protection of your child’s legal rights.  When a child is born out of wedlock, there are two common ways to determine the paternity of the child. The father can either acknowledge the paternity of the child or a lawsuit will be initiated to adjudicate the paternity of the child.  With paternity established, you may then seek child support from your child’s father for the benefit of your child. Our West Texas paternity lawyer discusses how you can establish paternity of your child below.

Acknowledgement of Paternity

Acknowledgement of Paternity is an administrative process by which two parents who are not married to each other can establish paternity of the child.  The Acknowledgement of Paternity form can be completed at any time before or after the birth of the child. It requires that the biological father and mother both sign the form and file it with the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. Once filed, the named father is now considered the legal father and his name can be placed on the birth certificate.

Often, the Acknowledgement of Paternity is completed at the hospital at the time of the birth, but it can also be completed at the local child support office or county birth registrar’s office.  Paternity must be established through this form or court order before a child support order will be issued. It is free for the father and mother to complete an Acknowledgement of Paternity.

Court Ordered Paternity

If the parents do not agree on the father’s identity, then it will be necessary to seek court involvement.  In a paternity lawsuit, the court will take evidence of the child’s father, which will often include a DNA test.  The court will lawfully determine who the child’s legal father is and also issue an order of child custody or child support.  You will generally wish to seek the assistance of a family law attorney to bring your paternity lawsuit, which can be initiated by the mother or alleged father.

If you are involved in a heated paternity battle, Navarrete and Schwartz can help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.